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Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture, and Science) is not disturbed by the fact that the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has opted for English as its official language. “Choices on language policy should be made at the level of the institutes themselves. At that level, it is best to assess whether a language other than Dutch is appropriate to the content of education and the labour market for which it provides specific training.”

The Eindhoven University of Technology has indicated that it has decided to use English as the operating language across the whole breadth of the university, because of the desired internationalisation of education, the Eindhoven University of Technology’s efforts towards an inclusive, international community and the growth of non-Dutch speakers in the university. The recent SP’s parliamentary questions didn’t bring the minister to any other thoughts. “The Eindhoven University of Technology states that it wants to work on the English language skills of all students and employees, so that they are equipped to work in the international working and learning environment in which they operate, precisely because the institution is already so international (for example: 60% of AIOs are English-speaking).”

According to Van Engelshoven, the choice of the TU/e is not motivated by the desire to attract more international students. It is also clear to her that the choice of English as a working language is independent of the choice of the language of instruction, which is taken per study programme. “For example, the TU/e indicates that the Bachelor of Biomedical Technology (BMT) programme will remain in Dutch. This training leads to jobs and further education where the command of the Dutch language is necessary.”

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For the staff – both scientific and supportive – and non-English-speaking students there will be extra training courses. According to the Minister, this provides sufficient certainty that everyone will have the opportunity to get the language skills up to standard.

In her answers to the SP’s questions, Van Engelshoven also indicates that later this spring she will present a vision on the internationalisation of education.

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.